Those I talked to on Monday had a high opinion of the man himself and said he’s expressing the right ideas for Juniper’s future. That’s a start, but of course it will take time to actually get those ideas implemented. (It’s the infamous phase of “it all comes down to execution.”)
Kheradpir, who joined in January and recently articulated his new plan for Juniper, is reportedly giving renewed attention to service providers, Juniper’s bread-and-butter customer base. Elite teams combining sales, marketing, and engineering are being sent to key customers with the mission of identifying what problems need to be fixed, said Michael Howard, principal analyst with Infonetics.
Fixing problems might sound like an obvious thing to do, but vendors can fall into the trap of building their products first and trying to fit them into service-provider needs. Sometimes the fit just isn’t there. (This is one reason why I prefer not to call anybody’s product a “solution.”)
The approach of studying customers’ problems is doubly important due to the rise of SDN and NFV. Both are nifty sounding ideas, but they mean more when they become salves for specific cases of customer pain.
Ideally, Juniper will come out of this exercise with a sense of common requirements that it can apply. Of course, teams could also report case studies so widely divergent that there’s no pattern to filter out — but at least Juniper would know for sure that that’s the case.
Analysts seem to agree that Juniper’s technology reputation needs a new shine, but they also don’t want the company to go too far in letting engineering dominate the culture. “Juniper has clearly been a company solving problems from the inside out,” Howard says.
This is where Kheradpir’s background comes in. He’s been on the buyer’s side of this business, working at Verizon and more recently at Barclays. “Shaygan can pick up the phone to a carrier and open doors,” says Ray Mota, an analyst at ACG Research.
That could help bring technological talent back to Juniper, Mota says. By most accounts, Juniper has been losing engineers for some time now.
“I’m excited, because Juniper has an opportunity to gain back credibility in the service provider space,” Mota says. “For the first time, they were starting to lose credibility in that area.